Muharram is the first month of Islamic calendar which is ten or twelve days shorter than the Gregorian calendar followed by the West. The word Muharram means ‘not permitted’ or ‘forbidden’ hence, Muslims are prohibited from taking part in activities like warfare and use it as a period of prayer and reflection.
Significance of Ashura fasting:
The Islamic New Year, also known as Al Hijri or Arabic New Year, is celebrated on the first day of Muharram as it was in this holy month that Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina. However, Ashura has been celebrated even in pre-Islamic times as it was on the 10th of Muharram that Allah saved Moses (Prophet Musa) and the Children of Israel from Pharaoh (Firaun) and his army.
As a sign of gratitude to Allah, Prophet Musa fasted on Ashura day that is the 10th of Muharram. Later in 622 CE, when Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Medina in the month of Muharram, he learnt from the Jews that they fasted on Ashura day following the ways of Prophet Musa.